15 July 2024


Competition Commission of India

Prime Mag. Subscription Services Pvt. Ltd. v. Wiley India Pvt. Ltd. and ors.


MRTP/ Competition Laws

CCI lets Wiley India off the hook

The Competition Commission of India dismissed a complaint against pre-eminent publisher of scientific, technical and medical journals, Wiley India, for consolidating its distribution network and placing price restrictions on suppliers outside it.

The complainant, a subscription agent, was engaged in the business of procurement of foreign and Indian journals from national and international publishers and sold them across the country. Its complaint was predicated on an appreciable adverse effect on competition, for the renown of the publisher and the “must have” nature of its journals.

It’s grief lay in the fact that whereas Wiley used to deal directly with subscription agents till 2010, since then it had unilaterally changed the system and appointed some agents as authorised agents. As such, subscription agents had to place their orders through authorised agents. The complainant was also appointed as an authorised agent, but was removed from the list after one year without reason. It claimed that, by demanding lists of end-users from subscription agents, the publisher and its authorised agents took over its customers as well. Moreover, by restricting the maximum discount it could offer to customers, it was reducing complainant’s competitiveness.

The Commission noted that Wiley had a worldwide market share of about 4.1 per cent, and the top five publishing companies, with similar or larger shares, were also present in India.

Considering if appropriation of the list of customers was in contravention of competition law, the Commission specifically looked at creating barriers to entry and driving out existing competitors. However, acts of the publisher were held to not contravene competition law for its diminutive presence in the market. Even the pricing tactics, in the nature of resale price maintenance would be unlikely to have widespread effects. It further opined, complainant itself could switch over to other publishers.

Tags : wiley india journal distribution authorised agent resale price maintenance

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